01 Nov ExploRussia’s co-founders – vegan lifestyle on World Vegan Day
In celebration of World Vegan Day, an annual holiday established more than 20 years ago, we decided to ask our co-founders to share their experience of being vegans in Russia, their reason for this life-changing decision and finally reveal their secret family recipe of beetroot soup aka Borscht.
ExploRussia (further ER): Hey, guys! Thank you for agreeing to meet me and coming down to our office.
Ruslan: Hey. You hunt us down since we share the office and it is not nearly enough space to run from you forever. But yeah, hey.
Olga *politely*: The pleasure is ours!
ER: So, happy World Vegan Day!
Ruslan: Hooray! It’s actually the third year for us since we found out about this day and ever since we’ve been celebrating it.
ER: Do you have any family traditions connected to this celebration? Do you do anything special every year on the 1st of November?
Ruslan: We usually go to Moscow Vegan market that opens specially on this day where we get all kinds of fresh veggies and fruits and then head home where we cook our favorite dishes. That way we not only make our grocery shopping fun but also useful by supporting our local farmers.
ER: How else do you support vegan community in Moscow?
Ruslan: We contribute to its growth! Vegan lifestyle is not mainstream for Russia yet but it is getting more and more popular every year. We share vegan culture with our family and friends, always happy to bring our meals to the office or parties.
ER*chewing*: And that is why we love you! Care to share some recipes with our readers to inspire them to explore more vegan cuisine?
Olga: Always! Many people think vegan food is boring and flat but this common opinion is as true as the fact that bears walk down the streets in Moscow *for the record they almost never do*. As a young mother, I cook a lot at home and with vegan lifestyle cooking becomes even more fun and interesting. Excluding some products from your menu sets you free to explore and innovate in kitchen more. We are strong believers that excluding meat and dairy does not means you have to cut all your favorite dishes out of the menu that is why we decided to share our secret family recipe of the vegan Borscht today! Otherwise, we invite you to join our Russian Cuisine Experience in Moscow, and we will teach you how to cook our vegan borscht in person!
ER: I am sure our readers will appreciate the gesture and will try famous Russian beetroot soup in vegan version themselves! Will you tell us a bit on how you decided to become vegans?
Ruslan: We wanted to eat healthier and live 150 year or more *with dead serious expression*. It is actually a tradition in Russia to eat vegan. Our ancestors did not have opportunity (weren’t wealthy enough) to eat meat regularly. And since we were agricultural country everyday table of an ordinary peasant included all kinds of turnips, beetroot, carrots, etc. We went back to this old eating habits and felt great ever since!
ER: Sounds awesome! Would you like to send a message to all vegan community around the Globe on this glorious World Vegan Day?
Ruslan & Olga: Of course, Happy World Vegan Day from Russia! We would like to wish Worldwide Vegan community to grow, be happy, and keep balance in our healthy diet!
Family recipe of Vegan Borscht* (beetroot soup) from Olga, Ruslan and their little daughter Lena
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1 whole onion
- 1 diced carrot
- 150 grams of cabbage (approx. 5,5 ounces)
- 400 grams of beans (approx. 14 ounces) for broth, sit overnight in a bowl of cold water
- 4 medium-size potatoes, diced
- 1 peeled grated beetroot (of course!)
- 2 table spoons of tomato paste
- 1 table spoon of vinegar
- Salt, pepper, bay leaf
- Place the pan with cold water on the stove and add beans that were sitting in the cold water overnight. Let them make amazing vegetable broth for borscht in 1,5h
- Add peeled but not chopped onion to the broth
- Cut a carrot into strips and chop the cabbage. Add them to your broth
- Heat oil in a frying pan and sauté grated beetroot with tomato paste for about 4 minutes. Then add them to broth
- Add diced potatoes
- Season with salt, pepper, bay leaf. Since the beetroot usually gives your soup sweetness you need to balance it with vinegar. Put vinegar in the broth!
- Smell it, rejoice and put a whole plate of pure enjoyment! You did it!
Olga’s remark: We usually serve borscht garnished with fresh dill but let our non-vegan friends add some sour cream to it.
*Borscht is a soup popular in many Eastern European cuisines. Beetroot gives this remarkable dish a deep reddish-purple color and a very distinctive unforgettable taste. We guarantee you will crave for more! Each family has its own recipe.
If you want to try and cook it yourself book our Russian cuisine tour